Black Knights welcome Rebels in MAIS showdown
Two of the best team’s in last year’s MAIS class take the field tonight at West Memphis Christian
After two dominating performances in the past couple of weeks, the West Memphis Christian Black Knights (2-1 overall) welcome perhaps their most difficult challenge of the season to West Memphis tonight as the MAIS Class AA State Runner-Up Tri-County Academy Rebels (1-2) come to town.
The contest puts the Class AA runner-ups against the MAIS Class A state champion Black Knights in a showdown between two last season’s best teams in the Mississippi Association of Intendent Schools and West Memphis Christian head coach Marcus Davidson is well aware of the pedigree he’s up against.
“They’re traditionally a powerhouse in the Class AA,” Davidson said. “They’ve either played for or won several state championships in the past couple of years but they’re always in the mix year in and year out. They’re very well coached and very well disciplined and they’ve been doing what they do for a long time.”
The big story in tonight’s game is how each team will fare in the downpour which is expected. Typically, rain means more reliance on the running game, and that plays into the Rebels hands, according to Davidson.
“I’m just hoping we can slow down their run game,” Davidson said. “The weather’s not going to do me any favors. They’re big and they’re strong.”
Throughout the season, it’s been West Memphis Christian’s passing game which has lit up the scoreboard for the Black Knights to the tune of 38.3 points per game, including 54 in last week’s win over Columbus Christian (1-2). In that win, senior Parker Benson completed 15 of 18 passes for 327 yards and four touchdowns. The Black Knights may find a harder go of things through the air due to the weather this week though.
However, it was the legs of the Black Knights which carried West Memphis Christian to a state title last season and Davidson says his team hasn’t forgotten how to tote the rock.
“It’s still in our repertoire,” Davidson said. “We just haven’t utilized it as much. Tomorrow, we’re going to try to run, throw, pray and utilize special teams to do whatever we need to do to pull out another W.”
If the Black Knights do find success on the ground, it’ll start with negating the skill of the Rebels defensive ends. “We want to play under their ends,” Davidson said. “They have really good defensive ends who are aggressive and we’re hoping that we can get underneath them or run some draw plays or counters and stuff to kind of offset them from rushing up field.”
With Davidson’s patented midline veer system still in place, the West Memphis Christian head coach says he has several ideas of how to best utilize his backs.
“We’re just hoping that we can slow down their run game and still utilize our pass game and at the same time mix in a couple of new runs that we’ve implemented this week that will be up our sleeve,” Davidson said. “If the weather does affect us, I’ve always got something else up my sleeve. We’re not just going to rely on (the pass). We’ll figure out something else to try to do what we need to do.”
Tonight’s kickoff at West Memphis Christian between the Black Knights and the Rebels is slated for 7 p.m., rain or shine.
By Collins Peeples